Fall 2020 - IS 300 E100

Research Methods in International Studies (4)

Class Number: 6796

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    IS 101 and 45 units.



Introduces the research enterprise in International Studies.


This course adopts a critical approach to examining the processes and methods of global knowledge production, with the objective of preparing students to become discerning consumers of knowledge and responsible producers of knowledge. The course will begin with a brief overview of the debates surrounding the question: What is knowledge? The rest of the class will be structured around the question: Who gets to produce what kinds of knowledge, for whom, and how? This will be broken down into three different components: (1) The ethics and politics of knowledge production; (2) Logics of research; (3) Methods of data collection and analysis (qualitative, quantitative, mixed).

This course will be taught synchronously through an online platform. Online attendance is compulsory. Students who may experience accessibility issues should write to the instructor to discuss possible alternative arrangements.


(1) Develop greater understanding of competing social scientific approaches to knowledge
- Distinguish between different approaches to knowledge in the social sciences, and critically evaluate the assumptions and arguments on which these approaches are based
- Gain familiarity with a range of quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection commonly used in the social sciences
- Critically assess the strengths and limitations of different methods in relation to addressing specific research agendas

(2) Develop practical research skills, including ability to collect, synthesize, and analyze scholarship and primary data in international studies, in accordance with established standards of scientific rigor and ethics
- Practice designing an original research project
- Gain familiarity with standards and practices of ethical human subjects research

(3) Develop the ability to communicate ideas about global problems clearly and effectively to diverse audiences
- Learn to craft a research proposal
- Practice making clear and concise oral presentations of an argument
- Gain experience doing online presentations


  • Participation 5%
  • Weekly assignments 15%
  • Learning diary 20%
  • Reverse Engineering Exercise (involves some group work) 30%
  • Research Proposal (group work) 30%


Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.


This course will be delivered via online platforms, such as Zoom, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.

Students are required to have a computer, with a microphone, webcam, and speakers. They also must have good access to the Internet.

Microsoft Office is required, and a free version of Office 365 is available to SFU students here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.

Students will be required to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.



Students will not need to buy any textbooks for this course.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).